Although social media has become the primary source of skincare advice, should we really take advice from it all the time? Plus, how do we know who to take advice from?
“A study of dermatology-related hashtags revealed that only 5% of 146 unique skinfluencers identified were dermatologists, and a similar analysis of top Instagram dermatology posts indicated that only 35% of unique posters were healthcare workers(Joshi; Korrapati, 2022) .” Furthermore, a recent study from the University of California found that among 439 acne-related posts to the social media platform in April 2020, only 17 of the top posts came from dermatologists. The remaining posts were generated from “influencers” with no clinical background(Joshi; Korrapati, 2022).
And specifically, for “skin of color–related” hashtags on Instagram, “non-dermatologists were responsible for the majority of posts, with dermatologists generating only 12% of top content. Therefore, a lack of educational content backed by board-certified dermatologists may be detrimental, as inaccurate sources may contribute to the spread of misinformation(Joshi; Korrapati, 2022).”
More simply, people with credentials are only a small minority of the people giving skincare advice, especially in certain situations. Unfortunately, misinformation has a large chance of influencing our shopping and skincare habits(Joshi; Korrapati, 2022).
“A recent survey by the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery noted that social media ranked in the top three for factors to consider when purchasing skin care products(Joshi; Korrapati, 2022).” And if we’re basing our decisions on questionable advice, are we truly buying the right quality products for our unique skin types?
So, how do you shop for skincare products?
“Dermatology has a growing presence within TikTok, totaling 4.5 billion views for the hashtag #acne and 633.8 million for #acnetreatment. Other popular TikTok hashtags include #eczema, #psoriasis, and #hidradenitissuppurativa(Joshi; Korrapati, 2022).” However, conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and HAS need to be assessed by a dermatologist or a health care provider. Moreover, you need advice that is specific to your skin. So, the best way to shop for efficacious products is to get recommendations from a dermatologist. If you are unable to see one, you can access platforms like Apostrophe and Dermalogica where you can see a dermatologist, who can diagnose a skin condition, and help build a customized skincare routine.
Know the difference between a skincare enthusiast and a licensed professional.
There’s nothing wrong with taking suggestions, but how you approach skincare suggestions is important. When someone is a skincare enthusiast, they often only have access to their own subjective experiences with products, and likewise, make suggestions based on this. There is nothing wrong with sharing what they have personally found to work. But when making suggestions, it is absolutely helpful to have a breadth of knowledge on what has worked for clients or patients as well as empirical studies that have been done in the past. Professionals often have this knowledge, and in addition to their personal experience, can also offer their education.
Social media is for sharing and starting conversations, but it’s important to know that skincare is extremely subjective. And after getting suggestions, you often have to create your own routine or use those suggestions to find what works best for you. On social media, you might not get a “cure-all” answer but rather clues about what might work for you.
Verify the professional’s credentials
For example, on Twitter, incorrect information and unconventional home remedies are common. “While a user’s authentic identity can be proven through Twitter’s verification process, this is not required to establish an account and anyone (for example) can claim to be a board-certified dermatologist without providing credentials(Joshi; Korrapati, 2022).” So, to determine how you should approach an influencer’s advice, it is helpful to Google their name, find them on LinkedIn, and see what other people on social media have said about them.
Pay attention to these signs, but ultimately, see a board-certified dermatologist so you can move forward with buying skincare in an informed way.
Sources:Josh, Muskani; Korrapati, Naga Harika. The Impact of Social Media. Lviv Clinical Bulletin. Danylo Halytsky Lviv National Medical University. 2022.